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CHIPS Articles: The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies
Online resources for training and education, scholarships and more
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2013
The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) aims to be a single online resource for cybersecurity education and career information. With 556 million people per year becoming victims of cybercrime at a rate of 1.5 million per hour, 18 people per second, and with an annual price tag of $110 billion, cybercrime costs the world significantly more than the global black market in illegal drugs.

Securing cyberspace means we, as a country, must develop a technologically skilled workforce, a cyber-savvy public, and an effective pipeline of future employees. Billions of dollars are spent on new technologies to help secure the United States in cyberspace, but it will take a national strategy, similar to the effort to upgrade science and mathematics education in the 1950s, to meet the challenge of securing cyberspace today.

Now is the time to begin a coordinated national effort focused on cybersecurity awareness education, training and professional development. To address this need, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education was established. The mission of NICE is to enhance the overall cybersecurity posture of the United States by accelerating the availability of educational and training resources designed to improve the cyber behavior, skill and knowledge of every segment of the population — enabling a safer cyberspace for all.

To make cybersecurity materials more readily available, the government developed NICCS. NICCS underscores all four NICE components and intends to serve as a national resource for government, industry, academia and the general public to learn about cybersecurity awareness, education, careers and workforce development opportunities.

The vision of NICCS is to build a national resource to elevate cybersecurity awareness and help the American public to adopt a culture of cyberspace security and to build a competent cybersecurity workforce.

To continue advancing the content and information provided on the NICCS portal, the NICCS Supervisory Office is working closely with its partners to provide the most up-to-date guidance, recommendations and best practices on cybersecurity awareness, education, careers and training programs. As part of that effort, NICCS houses a Cybersecurity Education and Training Catalog that allows users to find the training they need to advance their careers.

Everyone knows cyber is the hot field to be in right now. But now that you’re in, how can you get the training you need? The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies can help. The catalog allows users to search for training or certifications by a variety of means, including keyword search, training provider and proficiency level. Later this year, the catalog will contain industry training that will make it a more robust and helpful resource.

If you’re interested in learning more about the catalog, please contact the NICCS Supervisory Office at niccs@hq.dhs.gov. In the meantime, you are encouraged to explore the NICCS and the catalog at www.niccs.us-cert.gov.

Developed by the Department of Homeland Security, NICCS offers tools and training and creates awareness for cyber competitions, camps and clubs. The cybersecurity career field is constantly growing and changing. There are an increasing number of cybersecurity degree programs that can lead to careers in the cybersecurity field. Many of these degree programs fall within the five traditional subdisciplines of computing: computer science, computer engineering, information systems, information technology and software engineering.

The government, colleges, and many corporations and non-profit organizations offer scholarships for students to attend college. In addition to the scholarships listed on the NICCS website (http://niccs.us-cert.gov/scholarship-opportunities), the Department of Homeland Security sponsors the Cyber Corps: Scholarships for Service program (http://niccs.us-cert.gov/education/ cybercorps®-scholarship-service-sfs).

The SFS program is a publicly funded scholarship co-sponsored by DHS and the National Science Foundation. This program provides scholarships that fully fund the typical costs that students pay for books, tuition, and room and board while attending an approved institution of higher learning. Additionally, participants receive stipends of up to $8,000 for undergraduate and $12,000 for graduate students. Scholarships are equivalent to years of service in the government.

In the future, scholarship opportunities will be integrated into a searchable database and aligned with the National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework. For more information about the NICCS, go to http://niccs.us-cert.gov/.

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